Sports Academics has been largely undermined in many countries as many feel they both do not go together and truth being the opposite. There is a lot of education, data collection, analysis, interpretation, and management that goes in to all genres of sports. We just do not see the opportunity even though its there right before us.
I am associated with football as a fan and employee, so I have decided to key in a few words of my vision for football in Asian countries. I was born and bought up in United Arab Emirates, I have lived here for many years and have loved every aspect of this nation; this country has a diverse population with almost 75-80% of the population being expats, which should give the football here a very diverse audience. But we have not been able to tap in to this population and gain their attention to UAE football as spectators.
We have almost 12 major clubs across UAE who are able showcase football at international standards with the presence of talented international and national players and having competitive football in the region. Clubs from UAE have been major players in AFC Competitions for many years and their national league matches are also of international standards. I feel the marketing and communication has not been able to connect to the major mass of the population in UAE which does not allow the expat football enthusiast to connect with the game and UAE Football. Even-tough most of them follow football leagues in Europe and their home countries they are yet to notice the quality of UAE football.
Expats are here for a better quality life, education, work environment and fun; they spend more of their energy and money for the aforementioned things, hence if we do not connect with them then the football in this region shall remain secluded from this diverse population and shall deprive the clubs from growing beyond the boundaries of the Stadium.
I believe our Football Academies can play the pivotal role of a catalyst to attract international attention to UAE football by widening their horizons of functionality. They can do this by converting themselves into institution which will train and impart knowledge not only on football alone but also regarding various aspects of Sports like sports journalism, sports medicine, etc. Instead of providing only evening training courses for football, they should be able function as a full-time institution that provides full-time courses which certifies individuals in different areas of Sports. This will bring together academics and sports which will promote UAE football among the diverse population living in this nation.
I am sure that this calls in for a huge investment the sports infrastructure and the human resource required for these institution but I believe that the only thing that cannot be robed from an individual is his/her quality and education which will justify the investment. A major benefit for the football clubs here through these academies would be to have a big resource pool of football players and other sports professionals which will reduce they money and time they have to invest on finding talent.
Author: Thejus Pushparaj
Technical & Operations manager
Al Wahda Club Football Sports Company LLC